Northern Ireland Child Abuse case studies: Eastern Area Child Protection Committee
Child E: died in 2006 aged 16. She had at times a turbulent relationship with both her mother and stepfather and had spent time in foster care.
A non-molestation order was granted to her mother and stepfather and served on her on the evening of January 19th.
The following day she died from an apparent self administered overdose of antidepressants.
The report states: “...although information sharing regarding relatively minor day to day events was good, the practice contrasted sharply when information sharing on key child protection matters was demanded.”
The report put forward 20 recommendations — including considering a change in court rules regarding the serving of documents on a minor.
n Baby girl J: died in 2003 aged two months. Her single mother had an abusive childhood and a history of mental health problems and alcohol misuse.
Mother began drinking wine at 2pm, then fell asleep on the sofa. At this time the baby was asleep in a car seat.
Her mother did not waken until the next day — sometime between 11am and noon. After feeding the baby, they both fell asleep — the baby in her arms.
The mother woke around 3pm and found the baby limp. J was pronounced dead at 3.25pm.
A post-mortem was carried out but the cause of death was undetermined.
Around 45 health and social care professionals were involved with the mother over two years.
The case management review concluded: “There was a profound lack of knowledge and understanding of roles and responsibilities in relation to their duty to safeguard children, particularly among health professionals.” and “...child protection was regarded by health professionals as someone else's problem, not theirs...”
Recommendations included that there should not be undue delay in making or allocating a child protection referral.